As July 4th quickly approaches, it’s time to pull out those grills for your annual, epic summer barbecues. To help make sure our Blavity Fam does everything in the spirit of excellence, we have created the 11 Commandments for this upcoming cookout season. Check out the do’s and dont’s below.

1. Thou shall not have a cookout if thou has no grill.

Living in the cities like DC, NYC and Chicago may mean you are low on space. So you might not have a massive grill like someone in Houston, Memphis or Atlanta. However, if your grill is the size of a hot plate, thou shall not be the host for the cookout. Thou shall let someone who has an adult sized grill host.

2. Thou shall not bring ice and eat everything but ice.

We all have that one person who no matter what the event, they only bring ice. This summer is your chance to step it up for your friendship and family circles. If you can’t cook, cheat. Thou shall order from Honey Baked Ham or local soul food carryout. Let someone else do the cooking for you, just don’t be the ice person this year.

3. Thou shall stick to thine culinary ministry.

If your ministry in life is making salad, DON’T offer to make the potato salad. Stick to romaine and ranch because no one wants to eat your struggle potato salad out of pity. It takes a special type of auntie who has been through a few life experiences and husbands to make that soul wrecking potato salad. Unless THAT aunty gives you the recipe and you’ve mastered it, thou shall stick to thine ministry.

4. Thou shall know the difference between a side dish and a condiment.

We are expecting these memorial day cookouts to be epic. So if your idea of a side dish is ketchup and mustard, rebuke the spirit of mediocrity and walk into the light. Things that qualify as side dishes: Things that qualify as side dishes: Potato salad(by THAT auntie), baked beans (not just dumped straight out of the can), macaroni and cheese (not Kraft out the box), collard greens (this is a Glory green-free zone), deviled eggs( if your deviled eggs are runny then they will give the runs and ain’t nobody got time for that). You get the point. Thou shall go forth and bring a qualifying side dish. You get the point. Thou shall go forth and bring a qualifying side dish.

5. Thou shall not touch the grill without the official “Uncle Tony” cookout shoe.

No black cookout is complete without that one uncle who has on shoes given to him by the disciples themselves. It’s as if the shoes give him a superpower to make the ribs taste about as good as the petty in Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’. If Unc with the shoes ain’t hitting the grill thou shall just have a “get together” and not an official cookout.

6. Thou shall not bring sensitivity as a plus one.

This is the time to flame your cousin for that bad hair cut. Or remind your favorite uncle of why Tennessee State is and will always be better than FAMU. This is your moment, your season and reason to bring the shade and  jokes amongst loved ones. Thou shall not get offended but instead fire back with a Drake or Beyonce line if all else fails. Tell ’em boy bye!

7. Thou shall not start the wobble, cupid shuffle, or electric slide if you have two left feet.

These dances are staples. No matter where black folks gather together and in what name, we will do one if not all three. So if you haven’t mastered any of them, do none of them. Thou shall not be the Becky with two left feet at the cookout.

8. Thou shall have a playlist that includes Prince, Natalie Cole, and Whitney.

We have gained and lost a lot when it comes to the greats and the amazing music that black millennials grew up on. As much as we want to hear the heartbreak prophet, Bryson Tiller, belt out ‘Exchange’, we gotta play ‘Purple Rain’ at least one good time and say a prayer that BET doesn’t dare disrespect us next month like Billboard did.

9. Thou shall not come empty-handed.

his is almost as bad as just bringing ice. My grandmother had a brown bag for repeat offenders of coming empty-handed. Rule: You can only take home in a brown bag what you brought to cook in the brown bag. That’s law. Therefore, if you bring nothing you leave with nothing. Thou shall come with at least a fruit tray.

10. Thou shall have a clean house.

When we go to a restaurant to eat we can check for their inspection grades, BUT no one is inspecting or grading how clean your home so we just have to trust that you are clean. The only four-legged cousins allowed are Rover the dog and Salem the cat. Don’t let something not allowed in our food chain come crawling across our plates. Thou shall cut on the ultimate playlist and clean thine house.

11. Thou shall not spark up a political debate over the ribs.

It’s a rough road to the next President. We mourn the fact that our lives and country will change forever in the coming months. Considering the choices, talking politics is like talking  the coming of Jesus. Some of us believe it’s gonna happen while the rest are in denial. We don’t want to think about it and therefore you shouldn’t bring up politics for backyard discussion. Thou shall keep the conversation light.